The annual National Football Foundation dinner held in June will honor three well-deserved former Boilermakers.
Ryan Grigson, the Indianapolis Colts general manager and the NFL’s “Executive of the Year”, as well as Olympic gold medalist David Boudia and Miss Indiana, Merriebeth Cox, as the recipients of the honor.
Jim Vruggink, the chapter director of the Joe Tiller chapter that hosts the dinner, said people attending the event can expect a lot of emotion this year.
“We’re giving an award, the gold medallion, which is our top award ... to David Boudia,” Vruggink said. “He’s really a neat guy ... winning a gold medal is is quite an amazing story so we will recognize that. Then we have Ryan Grigson from the Indianapolis Colts and a former Purdue football player, and hes got a pretty unique story behind him.”
Vruggink also said Cox will be recognized for her contribution of entertainment at football games and for her past accolades.
“She was the golden girl for five years, so she certainly spent plenty of time on the football field,” said Vruggink. “She has also been Miss Indiana for the last year and so that unique combination, we’re recognizing her with one of our awards.”
Part of the profits from this year’s event will help to cover the medical bills of a local high school football player who was diagnosed with leukemia as well as a player who had a younger brother who was diagnosed with leukemia.
“We’re using part of the dinner to help them raise money,” Vruggink said. “That can be devastating to families, when they have to go through all those medical bills.”
The event has boasted other well-known Purdue alumni: Drew Brees, Len Dawson, Bob Griese and Neil Armstrong have all been honored in previous years.
“I was sitting on the stage ... when Neil Armstrong was being honored and being interviewed (and) Drew Brees was sitting at a table kind of off to the left of where I was and I could see that he was sitting there really intently listening,” Vruggink said. “It was really a neat event for him to be apart of, and to just be there as a part of the audience.”
Another award being presented is the “Distinguished American Award.” The award is being given to Noble Kizer Sr. and Noble Kizer Jr. The elder Kizer was the football coach from 1930 to 1936. He died in 1940 at the age of 40 from a kidney ailment and high blood pressure.
“He had wonderful accomplishments, but it was short,” Vruggink said. “I’m convinced ... that if Noble Kizer had been here for 20 or 30 years as the football coach, (the) Purdue football reputation would have been a lot different than it is now.”
The dinner has previously donated $147,000 in scholarships. In addition to raising money through ticket sales, they also have silent auctions and raffles to raise additional money.
People who wish to attend the event on June 10 at the Purdue Memorial Union Ballrooms, can purchase tickets by sending in the order form submitted on Purdue’s athletic site.